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Alabama Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect AttorneysA recent news article tells the story of a tragic nursing home death. An elderly resident was found dead in a wooded area near the facility. How did it happen? How could a nursing home lose a resident?

The elderly assisted living resident had been absent from the facility for several days. You would think one of the nurses would have noticed? The facility now claims it thought the resident was on an outing with family. Instead, the elderly resident had wandered from the home. Nobody saw her leave. Nobody signed her out. You would think the nursing home followed a sign-out procedure for residents leaving with family???

The nursing home failed to monitor its elderly residents. A simple check-in / check-out procedure (if followed) would have prevented this death. How can a nursing home fail to follow such a basic procedure? While that nursing home was not in Alabama, we have plenty of facilities in our state that also fail to monitor their elderly residents.

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Blackwell-Law-Firm-Alabama-Accident-Injury-Lawyers-256-261-1315-300x300In a post earlier this year I asked, Is Dollar General An Unsafe Work Environment? I wrote that post after OSHA issued over $300,000 in citations due to safety issues at one of the company’s Alabama stores.

Over the years, I’ve represented numerous Dollar General employees who were injured on-the-job. In my past cases, these employees were far, far overworked. They functioned in an unsafe and understaffed environment. They were subjected to daily tasks that put them at risk of serious personal injury. I’ve represented Dollar General employees with work comp claims caused by falling from unsafe heights, tripping over store hazards, climbing into store dumpsters as required, falling from dangerous ladders and unloading heavy truckloads of merchandise with little help. Some of these workers suffer permanent, disabling injuries that altered their lives.

In a press release just days ago, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) dropped the hammer on Dollar General. When OSHA issues a press release with this title, you know things are serious:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Accident & Injury AttorneysLast Friday, I spoke at a workers’ compensation seminar in Birmingham. Let me start by saying thank you to Birmingham attorney David Nomberg (Nomberg Law Firm) for organizing the event and asking if I would speak. I enjoyed teaching about return-to-work issues in Alabama law. I also enjoyed learning on different topics from the other speakers David scheduled. When I attend these seminars, I always leave with some great insights that help me better prepare and try my Alabama workers’ compensation cases.

What are return-to-work issues in Alabama’s comp law? Alabama workers’ compensation law has a special provision, often referred to as the Return-To-Work section. The Alabama Supreme Court and Court of Civil Appeals have only addressed this section directly in about 3 to 4 cases. And, two of those are mine. The first involved a workers’ compensation case I tried a number of years ago in Athens. My client suffered a really bad lower back injury while working at the local Steelcase plant that left him severely restricted. He tried unsuccessfully to keep working. The second involved a more recent case I tried in Guntersville. In the Guntersville case, my client suffered two accidents, underwent a spinal surgery, and returned to work unsuccessfully despite significant efforts to accommodate his restrictions. My client worked for the City of Guntersville, itself. Both of these guys were hard workers who did everything possible to keep working. Both suffered such severe injuries that they just could not continue. In both cases, we won full benefits for our clients at trial and through appeal. So, these are compensation issues I’ve debated for clients through the Alabama court system.

I have not written much on this blog about the Return-To-Work provision of our workers’ compensation laws. There is a reason for that. This section is a major provision that impacts many injured workers. But, it’s also a long section with some complicated issues. So, it’s an area that’s really difficult to discuss in a short blog post. Since I just returned from teaching on the topic, I thought I would try to touch on a few issues in this area of Alabama law.

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While reading a work comp journal this week, I noticed two cases involving the impact of intoxication on work comp claims. Neither case was from Alabama. The two cases reached opposite results. In one, the worker lost his claim and benefits were denied. In the other, the court awarded compensation benefits.

I’ve written previously about the impact of drug and alcohol impairment on Alabama workers’ compensation claims. I’ve also written about the impact of impairment on commercial truck accidents — But that’s another issue.

Most states have provisions in their work comp laws barring claims if the worker’s intoxication or impairment caused the accident. In lawyer terms, the question is usually whether or not the intoxication was the proximate cause of the accident. Every state has unique workers’ compensation laws. So, these provisions can vary from state-to-state.

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Untitled-design-3-300x300In April, I wrote about proposed Alabama legislation to exempt rideshare workers from workers compensation protections. Of course, the Alabama Legislature passed the legislation — It protected big companies at the expense of working men and women in our communities.

You can read my prior article at Alabama Legislature Helps Rideshare Services Avoid Providing Workers’ Compensation BenefitsIn recent years, large rideshare companies have lobbied at the state level to avoid providing essential workers’ compensation benefits to workers. The state-by-state battle has seen mixed results. Some states have protected workers while others (such as Alabama) have not. In Alabama, the rideshare companies found an ally in Senator Arthur Orr. Not a surprise. Senator Orr annually sponsors legislation to arbitrarily cut-off medical and disability benefits from our most disabled workers.

Rideshare Companies Can Afford To Care For Their Workers

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Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys For YouAn injured workers calls our office. They describe the accident. They tell us the insurance company provided some medical care. The insurance company may have even paid some compensation to them while off work. But, the insurance company suddenly told them it was now disputing the claim. That’s what prompted the call to our office. How can my employer provide some benefits and then turn around to dispute the claim?

It’s a good question. It really does not make sense. It seems wrong. But, Alabama law does allow your employer (or its insurance carrier) to pay some benefits and then later dispute the claim. The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act (Section 25-5-56) specifically says:

In order to encourage advance payments, it is expressly provided that the payments shall not be construed as an admission of liability but shall be without prejudice.

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PROTECT-ALABAMA-WORKERS-300x300Injured workers often ask, “Why do I have to go to court if my case settled?” It’s a good question. The quick answer is that court approval of Alabama work comp settlements is meant to protect injured workers.

Let me give a little background. Alabama workers compensation benefits are limited. I think they are unfair for injured workers. Too many injured workers suffer needless hurdles and delays obtaining basic medical treatment. On top of that, disability benefits are often limited in both time and amount. The Alabama Legislature capped permanent partial benefits decades ago. Since then, the Legislature has ignored increases in the cost-of-living, leaving Alabama families with an injured breadwinner existing at the poverty level.

Our entire work comp system is unfair to workers. I’ve written multiple articles on this. Because the system is unfair, it’s even more important for seriously injured workers to obtain skilled legal counsel and fight for ALL available benefits. And, it becomes even more important for injured workers (with or without a lawyer) to have a safety system where a court can insure the insurance company is not taking advantage of them.

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Huntsville Personal Injury Attorneys / Blackwell Law FirmHit-and-run crash? The other driver fled the scene? You think it won’t happen to you. But, it does happen. In recent years, we’ve seen a rising number of hit and run crashes.

You are driving down University Drive in Huntsville. You stop at the intersection with Memorial Parkway. Suddenly, a speeding car runs the red light and slams into the side of your vehicle. You are shaken and hurt. Before you fully realize what is happening, the other driver speeds away. Police later identified the at-fault driver. Why did he flee the scene? He had no car insurance.

You are driving down Pulaski Pike on the way home after work. You stop at a light. Suddenly, a car crashes into the rear of your car. But, the car does not stop. Instead, the at-fault driver backs up and then speeds from the crash scene. Why did he flee the scene? He had warrants for his arrest and did not want to be caught. Fortunately, an off duty police officer saw the crash and followed the fleeing driver. And, he was caught.

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersIt’s the day after a serious car accident. The events of yesterday are a blur. You are hurting. You are stiff. For many people, the first few hours and days after a serious car accident are a time of increasing pain. Hopefully, you’ve never experienced this. Those who have will understand.

You are hurting. You start to worry about your health. You start to worry about work. You are probably worried about your car. You may have lots of concerns and questions. That’s when you receive the call. An adjuster calls. Often, the adjuster calls with a friendly voice. She wants you to think you are in good hands. She sounds helpful. She may even tell you to send your medical bills and sign paperwork so they can get your records. She hints they will pay the bills if you send them. Don’t believe it. I talk to accident victims weekly. So many of them are misled by adjusters into believing the insurance company wants their actual bills to pay each of them.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays anything for your injuries, they are going to want you to sign a release giving up your claims. So, why is the adjuster calling? Why is she acting friendly at first? The truth — The insurance company is investigating the accident and you. The insurance company is gathering information. And, it will use the information to defend the claim or to pay as little as possible.

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Huntsville Car Accident AttorneysYou’re on your usual route to work in the morning, trying to make it on time and keep your boss happy. Things seem to be going well when suddenly traffic slows to a crawl and people start moving over. “You’ve gotta be kidding!” you say as the traffic cones and construction equipment appear in your field of view. Why are they working on the road during rush hour?

Across northern Alabama, population growth means roadway expansion. If you’ve read my prior articles, you know I’ve discussed the safety and expansion needs of several area roads. I’ve written several articles about Highway 53, a major Huntsville roadway which desperately needs improvements. For years, Highway 53 has been a dangerous road where far too many serious car accidents occur. We’ve handled accident claims involving serious injuries and deaths at points along Highway 53 all the way to Ardmore. Our area legislators have worked tirelessly for years to bring needed improvements to that roadway. It looks like positive safety changes are finally occurring.

With population growth, highway authorities now have planned expansion of Highways 53, Highway 72 and Interstate 565. With parts of I-565 seeing nearly 115,000 vehicles per day, parts of Highway 72 seeing nearly 50,000 vehicles per day, and parts of Highway 53 seeing nearly 30,000 vehicles per day, there’s no denying how important – and how busy – these highways can get. They have been vital to North Alabama’s growing economy.

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